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Making Relevance a Priority: Assessing the Needs of New Faculty. Catherine Schryer & Donna Ellis Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada 32 nd Annual POD Conference – October 24-28, 2007 – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Session Plan.

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Making relevance a priority assessing the needs of new faculty

Making Relevance a Priority: Assessing the Needs of New Faculty

Catherine Schryer & Donna Ellis

Centre for Teaching Excellence,

University of Waterloo,

Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

32nd Annual POD Conference – October 24-28, 2007 – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Session plan
Session Plan Faculty

In this session, you will:

  • Learn about the challenges and needs expressed by new faculty members and department chairs at the University of Waterloo

  • Engage in discussions to share ideas about new faculty programming and resources and about our research tools

Our local context
Our Local Context Faculty

  • University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

  • 24,000 undergraduate students, 3,000 graduate students, 1,000 faculty members

  • Comprehensive university

  • Typical tenure-track load is 40/40/20 BUT we are a research-intensive institution ($127 million in sponsored research awards in 2006/2007) (

New faculty support pre study
New Faculty Support Pre-Study Faculty

  • Started NF-specific programming in 2002

  • New hires = 60-100 each year

  • Components:

    • September full-day event – orientation, lunch with Deans and Chairs, panel on success, BBQ with spouses at President’s farm

    • Lunch & Learn events – on research funding sources, teaching & tenure, and course evaluations

    • Website & Binder – resources to help with teaching, research, service, and broader community

    • Individual services – course design, course evaluation analysis, classroom management, teaching observations, etc.

New faculty support pre study1
New Faculty Support Pre-Study Faculty

Changes made before study:

  • New position – WatPort recruitment and retention coordinator in Associate Provost’s office

  • BBQ – moved to night before all-day event

  • Small welcome lunches in January and May

New faculty study methods participants
New Faculty Study: Methods & Participants Faculty

  • Received Office of Research Ethics clearance :

    • Run 8 focus groups (total n=32) with new faculty hired over past 5 years (duration: 2 hours each)

    • Interview 11 department chairs – selected based on: number of NF hired in recent years, length of time in position, and representation across 6 Faculties (duration: 1 hour each)

New faculty study focus group questions
New Faculty Study: FacultyFocus Group Questions

  • What do you think are the characteristics of good teaching?

  • What challenges did you face as a new teacher?

  • What have you done to develop yourself as a teacher since coming to UW?

    • Who helped you and how? What resources did you access?

  • What could UW do better in supporting you as a teacher?

  • What could the units supporting teaching development do better to help you?

  • What is the best advice you could give to NF?

New faculty study chair interview questions
New Faculty Study: FacultyChair Interview Questions

  • What do you think are the characteristics of good teaching?

  • What challenges do NF face in terms of teaching?

  • What could we (UW generally) do better in terms of teaching support for NF?

  • What could the teaching centre do better?

  • What advice do you give to NF?

New faculty study activity for you
New Faculty Study: FacultyActivity for You

  • Before revealing the results for most theme areas, we will ask you to predict the key responses from NF and Chairs

  • Each side of the room will have a role to play (NF or Chair) – quick brainstorm before the results

What are the characteristics of effective teaching
What are the Characteristics Facultyof Effective Teaching?

  • Personal character traits – inborn characteristics, e.g., enthusiasm

  • Course characteristics – teachable skills e.g., syllabus organization

  • Learning – students actually learned

Characteristics personality traits
Characteristics: FacultyPersonality Traits

  • Chair – enthusiasm, organization

    • “If you have people that are enthusiastic teachers they may make mistakes, but if they work hard, they will overcome those” (C9)

    • “the notion that it is cute or eccentric (to be disorganized) is not acceptable” (C9)

  • New Faculty

    • “enthusiasm” (FG 1a,2b,3b,4b)

    • “approachable” (FG1a,4b)

    • “fair but flexible” (FG1b,4b)

  • Characteristics course related
    Characteristics: Course Related Faculty

    • Chair – planning, organization

      • “So when I am talking about being prepared, I am talking about both big picture prepared and having the mechanics of day-to-day down” (C10)

    • New Faculty – planning, organization, clear expectations, meaningful assignments, gaining students’ trust, ensuring they know why they are learning

    • Learning. Effective teaching means that students learn

    Characteristics they learned
    Characteristics: They learned! Faculty

    • Chairs 6/11

      • “good teaching inspires students to apply themselves to the material, so that there is not an element of duress in self-motivated learning.” (C6)

    • New Faculty – understand where students are at, facilitate questions, convince students that they are intelligent and can contribute to field

    What are the challenges
    What are the Challenges? Faculty

    • Lack of teaching experience

    • Lack of local knowledge

    • Students – cause problems

    • Research-teaching balance (or lack thereof)

    • Infrastructure

    Challenge lack of experience or local knowledge
    Challenge: Lack of Experience or Local Knowledge Faculty

    • Lack of experience – Chairs’ concern 6/11

      • “Rarely do we have people with real teaching experience” (C4)

    • Hardly mentioned by New Faculty

    • Need for local knowledge – huge concern for NF – level of students, dealing with student problems, knowing who to go to for help without being a “pest”, knowing how course fits in curriculum, figuring out technologies

    Challenge students
    Challenge: Students Faculty

    • Chairs’ preoccupation: ill-prepared, demanding students

      • “they have to deal with what is popularly referred to as the ‘Millennial Generation’ which some of us prefer to describe as the ‘I’m Entitled Generation.’” (C6)

    • New faculty – almost no concern

    Challenge research teaching balance
    Challenge: FacultyResearch-Teaching Balance

    • Chairs

      • “biggest challenge is the competition between research and teaching” (C11)

      • “ institution does not value teaching…teaching is secondary” (C3)

    • New Faculty

      • UW does not value good teaching, although there’s lots of talk – not much incentive to be a great teacher – but there is to be good

    Challenge infrastructure
    Challenge: Infrastructure Faculty

    • Chairs are aware about class size, poor rooms, insufficient technology

      • “lousy classrooms” (C1) “overheated” “poor sight lines” (C6)

    • New Faculty – all of the above plus –poorly trained TA’s, poor support re: academic integrity (plagiarism), little access to past course resources

    What have new faculty done
    What have New Faculty done? Faculty

    • Collected and used formative and summative feedback on teaching

    • Used teaching centre resources (workshops, observations, CUT)

    • Sought help from colleagues (attended others’ lectures, had mentor) BUT didn’t want others to know OR colleagues didn’t always know how to fix problems

    • Gave themselves some time

    What support should uw offer
    What Support Should UW Offer? Faculty

    • Clearly establish UW’s priorities regarding teaching

    • Provide teaching support

    • Improve university infrastructure

    • Provide local knowledge – mostly Chairs mention this here

      “…how is the university going to overcome this conflict between teaching and research?” (C11)

    Support from uw priorities regarding teaching
    Support from UW: FacultyPriorities Regarding Teaching

    • Chairs are aware of the conflict between teaching and research at the university level, many use a ramp-up model for teaching loads, and some recommend peer review of teaching and better rewards for excellent teaching

    • New Faculty were most focused on the teaching loads: “Communicate to students what faculty have to do” (FG3b)

    Support from uw teaching support
    Support from UW: FacultyTeaching Support

    • Chairs

      • “We have to support them on the teaching side” (C1) – need departmental resources and programming yet unsure they can provide this

      • Teaching centre assistance (i.e., course design workshops) BUT better in conjunction with department to increase impact

    • New Faculty

      • Agree with Chairs: want a “lecture coach” and department help with teaching development

    Support from uw local resources
    Support from UW: FacultyLocal Resources

    • Both Chairs and New Faculty mentioned inadequate classrooms and scheduling difficulties

    • Chairs added what New Faculty need to understand about the students (backgrounds and Co-op)

    • New Faculty added concerns about TA training

    What support should teaching centre offer
    What Support Should FacultyTeaching Centre Offer?

    • Provide programming for new faculty – held jointly with departments

    • Identify or coordinate learning resources

    • Assist with interpreting evaluations of teaching

    • Increase awareness of what Centre offers – especially with Chairs!

    Support from teaching centre programming
    Support from Teaching Centre: Programming Faculty

    • Chairs mostly recommended programming done in conjunction with departments (workshops, discussions, open classrooms)

      “…focus on bringing new faculty together with people who have a proven excellence in teaching and a proven love of teaching…” (C7)

    • New Faculty wanted more specific orientation information and specific workshops (teaching large classes, academic integrity, getting tenure)

    Support from teaching centre learning resources
    Support from Teaching Centre: Learning Resources Faculty

    • Chairs and New Faculty primarily focused on getting assistance with technological tools (CMS, repositories) plus having access to past exams

    • Chairs more focused on the investment of time needed to innovate with new technologies = resentment

      “you learn some software, it’s just going to change in two years…what they want to do is teach” (C7)

    Support from teaching centre teaching evaluations
    Support from Teaching Centre: Teaching Evaluations Faculty

    • Only mentioned for this question by New Faculty (Chairs talked about peer review in previous question)

      • UW should consider using a different evaluation form and different evidence

      • Teaching centre (versus senior faculty) should coordinate peer observations or even do faculty observations – seen as more objective

    Chair advice
    Chair Advice Faculty

    • Have the right attitude

      • “So being a good teacher is determined by your enthusiasm” (c1)

    • Consult with your senior colleagues

      • “Don’t let things fester—see the chair… ” (C9)

    • Put a higher priority on research, but don’t neglect teaching

      • “for the next 5 years your job is to get tenure” (C6)

    • Know your material and be organized

    New faculty advice
    New Faculty Advice Faculty

    • Try to be a good teacher but not great

    • Get help – colleagues, open classrooms

    • Seek clarity in expectations

    • Research is what matters

    • Scads of specific advice

      • Be prepared, be aware of student problems and how to deal with them, pay attention to course evaluations, vary assessment measures

    General implications
    General Implications Faculty

    • Many chairs believe that effective teaching is related to personality; more NF see teaching as a set of strategies that enhance learning

    • Many Chairs point to a lack of general teaching experience as a key challenge; whereas NF point to a lack of specific, local knowledge being available to them

    • NF see “millennial students” as less problematic

    • NF receive mixed messages about value of teaching, but mostly hear that they should not prioritize teaching

    • Chairs offer general advice; NF offer specific advice – NF are quite “teaching-savvy” – culture clash?

    Implications for teaching centre
    Implications for Teaching Centre Faculty

    • NF and Chairs want more department-specific programming – feel faculty will receive the message more willingly – but it’s unclear who will offer it

    • Chairs do not have a clear sense of what the teaching centre offers, so not able to promote us accurately

    • NF may not be confident that colleagues can help them – should teaching centre help depts set up systems for peer review, sharing of resources, etc?

    • How much can teaching centre step in when value of teaching isn’t on par with research?

    Discussion time
    Discussion Time! Faculty

    • Discussion of Results:

      • What 1-2 ideas would you suggest that our teaching centre use to respond to these results (e.g., programming, resources, organizational development strategies, etc.)?

    • Discussion of Methods:

      • What 1-2 questions would you add to or delete from the research tools used and why?

    Uw s initial responses
    UW’s Initial Responses Faculty

    • Hired two new instructional developers – faculty programming and consultations

    • Replaced orientation in Sept with 2 workshops (academic integrity and course management)

    • Added NF listserv and socials

    • Changing L&L topic areas: understanding students, assessing student learning

    • Providing more department-specific workshops through curriculum projects

    Selected references

    Austin, A. E. (2002). Creating a bridge to the future: Preparing new faculty to face changing expectations in a shifting context. Review of Higher Education 26(2):119-144.

    Boice, R. (2000). The new faculty member: Supporting and fostering professional development. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    Menges, R.J. & Associates. (1991). Faculty in new jobs. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    Sorcinelli, M.D. & Austin, A. E. (Eds.) (1992). Developing new and junior faculty. New Directiosfor Teaching and Learning. No 50. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    Whit, E.J. (1991). ‘Hit the ground running’:Experiences of new faculty in a school of education. Review of Higher Education. 14(2): 177-197

    Selected References:

    Our contact information
    Our Contact Information Preparing new faculty to face changing expectations in a shifting context. Review of Higher Education 26(2):119-144.

    Catherine Schryer,


    Centre for Teaching Excellence,

    University of Waterloo

    Donna Ellis,

    Associate Director,

    Centre for Teaching Excellence,

    University of Waterloo